Written by Connie Larkman
How is your congregation or organization living into the United Church of Christ commitment to work for a Just World for All? That is the central question the denomination's General Minister and President will be asking as he crisscrosses the country in a 'listening tour' during the next few months, gathering responses in anticipation of General Synod 2017 in Baltimore in June.
The Rev. John C. Dorhauer, with a full schedule of speaking engagements in varied UCC settings across the United States from April through June, plans to use his time at local churches, meetings of regional clergy, and Conference Annual Meetings, listening to the experiences of these faith communities, asking them to share ways their work expresses the UCC vision statement 'United in Christ's love, a just world for all.'
Dorhauer is also offering a preview of an all-church mission initiative that will be introduced at General Synod, as part of the Just World for All vision, 3 Great Loves: Love of Children, Love of Creation, Love of Neighbor.
"As we prepare for the Synod launch, I ask that you begin to look at your work through the lenses of the 3 Great Loves," Dorhauer said. "How does your work express a love of children, a love of creation, and/or a love of neighbor?"
Dorhauer is grounding this spiritual journey with the biblical text of Deut. 6:4-9: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
One of the stops on the General Minister and President's tour will be Woodside Church in Flint, Michigan, where he will also be touring the community, which has been plagued for years with inaccessibility to clean water—an issue that encompasses all three of the "great loves" to be featured in the 3 Great Loves mission initiative, which will run from General Synod 2017 this summer to General Synod 2019.
Over the course of those two years, the UCC national offices will roll out a series of causes for the church to rally around, and provide space for the sharing of ministry, with the hope that through the collective efforts of the denomination, significant progress can be made toward creating a just world for our children, God's creation, and our neighbors.
"I have been traveling around witnessing the work of our churches. This emphasis on 3 Great Loves isn't going to change much of what we are already doing," said Dorhauer. "What will change is our ability to tell the story more fully, and to narrate the impact of a mission we are all collectively engaged in. We are hoping to deepen the sense that we are all in this together; and that together we make a profound difference in our world."